Key packing decision: What’s the best all-purpose shoe?

18 Feb

Not sturdy enough.

A colleague and I recently discussed one of the most important packing decisions a traveler must make: what shoes should I take?

Me: Those are Merrells you’re wearing now. Do you like them? I’ve been looking at these Merrells.

Colleague: I do, but I originally bought them for a trip and ended up not taking them. They were too tight in the hot weather. You know, it’s really not a good idea to buy new shoes before a trip. Maybe take your old sneaks instead.

Me: I don’t wear ‘sneaks.’ I either take walking shoes like Rockports or sandals. I hear what you’re saying about breaking in new shoes, but I really want something new for this trip. I am worried about it being hot though — it is summer in South Africa after all. Should I be thinking about a fancy pair of sandals instead?

Colleague: Well, I like to do a lot of walking on trips, so I prefer a shoe with a sock. I take really light-weight ones so they will dry quickly.

Me: What, are you saying you can’t wear socks with sandals? Is that a fashion faux pas or something? (J/k) My problem with socks is that they don’t help with the hot-feet issue. I walk around a lot too when traveling, so I’m wondering if light hiking boots would be good — with socks, of course. But my feet would probably be boiling, and that doesn’t exactly result in a pleasant environment for those around me, if you know what I mean ….

So, gentle readers, what’s a good versatile shoe for city sightseeing that’s also good for walking in unpaved or natural areas? Help!

Image: cbenjasuwan /


3 Responses to “Key packing decision: What’s the best all-purpose shoe?”

  1. Maryke February 18, 2011 at 5:57 PM #

    Keen makes a great walking shoe. My husband and I went to South Africa last summer for the World Cup and I took one pair of Keen presidio shoes and one pair of Keen sandals. If you don’t want to bring two pairs, Keen also makes a sandal that covers your toes so you get protection but also ventilation for hot weather. We visited Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and spent 4 days at Addo at the Riverbend Lodge. Looking forward to reading about your experience!

  2. Bob Payne February 18, 2011 at 6:15 PM #

    Thanks, Mary. A friend mentioned Keen as well. I’ll keep that in mind when I go shopping tomorrow. Did you like Addo? I’m really looking forward to the dung beetles! :-0

  3. Maryke February 18, 2011 at 9:06 PM #

    I loved Addo! There’s nothing quite like hearing a lion roar at sunrise, while your truck is surrounded by elephants enjoying their breakfast. We also saw plenty of zebra, ostrich, kudu, springbok, warthogs, monkeys, giraffes and some of the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen. The highlight for me was seeing two lionesses and four lion cubs that our guide estimated to be 4 months old. Absolutely amazing.

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